Taking time to tour

On a recent visit, ADA president talks dentistry's role in the community
February 28th, 2020

Dr. Chad P. Gehani, president of the American Dental Association, didn’t want to miss a chance to see Texas A&M College of Dentistry’s new Clinic and Education Building while he was in Dallas on Friday. Dr. Lawrence Wolinski led Gehani and past-ADA president Dr. John Findley, a Plano dentist, on a tour.

“As I’m looking at the building, I’m so impressed,” Gehani said. “I want to congratulate you.”

He discussed a dental school’s role in the community and the importance of outreach, the College of Dentistry’s goal to increase patient visits by 40 percent, and how whole-health care starts with good oral health care.

“Even though many people believe dentistry is not as important, but when you are taking care of the oral health of the general population, you are in a sense serving the community well, and it’s a wonderful goal,” he said.

He also delved into the college’s recent curriculum change from a discipline-based approach to a whole-health model.

“I always teach my dental students that we strongly believe the teeth are attached to the jaw and the jaw is attached to the body. So do not consider that you are isolated just working on the oral cavity and not the entire body,” he said.

Genhani recalled a recent patient who thought she needed a root canal. After careful examination, he referred her to a physician. That whole-body approach meant a correct diagnosis: initial symptoms of a heart attack and a need for bypass surgery.

“Interrelationship with our medical colleagues and the dentist is much more important now than what we used to think even 10 or 15 years ago,” he said.

Growing up in Mumbai, India, Gehani saw his first dentist at 19. Realizing that only wealthy families could afford oral health care, he decided to pursue a career in dentistry, according to the ADA. He received his dental training at the University of Bombay. Learning that there was a shortage of dentists in the U.S., he immigrated to New York. He then took two national board exams, a bench test and a final clinical exam. Gehani has practiced in New York ever since.

He is an adjunct associate professor at New York University College of Dentistry, where he has also taught as an assistant clinical professor and associate clinical professor. He attended Columbia University to specialize in endodontics.

LaDawn Brock contributed to this story.

— Kathleen Green Pothier